the blue catfish fisheries in Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks. The group determined that regulation changes would be necessary to recover the quality of the blue catfish populations in both reservoirs and developed four, primary objectives:
- Provide harvest protection for intermediate and larger blue catfish that studies found are being harvested at excessive rates, allowing more fish to reach larger sizes.
- Increase the harvest of small blue catfish, allowing anglers every opportunity to take fish home for the table, and reduce the number of small blue catfish to reduce competition for food. With less competition for food, blue catfish growth should improve.
- Retain the catfish angler base on both reservoirs and their tributaries.
- Maintain good relations with the angling and non-angling public while continuing to promote the local catfish fishing-based economy.
Numerous regulation options were considered. Protected slot-length limit regulations, where blue catfish within a prescribed size range must be released, were determined to be the best alternative. Protected slot-length limits allow intermediate-sized blue catfish, those being harvested at high rates, a chance to grow to larger sizes. At the same time, daily limits on fish shorter than the protected slot length limit should be increased and larger fish above the slot would require some level of additional protection.
With a science-based roadmap in place, the Department gathered more public input. Three stakeholder meetings were held in 2010 to discuss several regulation options. The majority of attendees supported a regulation change. Some stakeholders, while supportive of a regulation change, believed that the changes might be too restrictive. Others indicated support for existing regulations. Additional comments were gathered using an online, public link.
This information was used to revise the proposed regulation changes and, in August 2012, an updated regulation proposal was discussed with the public at a series of three open houses. With science and public input as the driving forces, the Department is considering the following changes to blue catfish regulations for Truman Reservoir, Lake of the Ozarks, and their tributaries:
Ten blue catfish daily limit: This reflects an increase in the current daily limit for blue catfish and should help to improve blue catfish growth in both reservoirs.
Protected slot-length limit of 26 to 34 inches, or about 7 pounds to 16 pounds: Blue catfish from 26 to 34 inches would have to be returned to the water, unharmed, immediately. This protected slot-length